Exhibitionists·Video

Beto Janz's striking art pieces made from broken skateboards prove destruction is a form of creation

Skateboarding made him fearless — and he isn't afraid to break decks for his art.

Skateboarding made him fearless — and he isn't afraid to break decks for his art

Like many skaters, Beto Janz has an origin story: "Growing up, I was quite the misfit. With skateboarding I found an opportunity to express myself and make friends."

Skate culture has been this kind of vehicle for plenty of kids to become part of a community, and that sense of family comes with a lot of art — the design on your deck, the music you listen to, the graffiti and murals at your skate park and even the style you hone as a rider. Janz has taken all the elements of what he loves about the sport and has translated them directly into his artwork.

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Beto Janz's techniques might look destructive, but he's using them to give skateboards new life. 3:14

"I don't really have a medium; I always like to explore different things and different techniques," Janz says of his vivid art work. His decals and designs, which take some serious roadburn to achieve the full effect, are not only part of his decks but the skateboards are a medium themselves — he takes old decks and fashions them into gritty skulls.

Janz grew up in Curitiba, Brazil, where he cultivated the DIY attitude necessary to make skateboards into art. He was also forced to improvise, as he didn't have that many resources to build his practice. He explains that his resulting multi-media approach also stems from his Brazilian roots: "That is what I love about my Brazilian blood. You use what is around you to make something happen instead of waiting for opportunities to come to you."

With his series Broken Decks/Skulls, the multiple broken and discarded skateboard decks he carves into skulls, Janz explains, "What I'm doing now, I am bringing it back to life." Ironically, for Janz skulls are a symbol of life as much as they are of death.

While skateboarding involves risk — you can take a serious fall — it's also pretty life-affirming when you land a new trick. Janz says: "You are always trying to push yourself, facing your fears. So it's the same thing with art. Most of the time I don't know how this is going to turn out...but I have to try it."

Check out Beto Janz's skateboard-inspired art here.

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.

About the Author

As a young child, March Mercanti would play with his action figures for countless hours because he was obsessed with telling stories...to himself. Currently, March is a filmmaker living in Toronto, ON. He works at CBC Arts creating documentaries for artists across Canada.